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Keywords:

  • botulinum toxin-A;
  • gait;
  • meta-analysis;
  • rehabilitation;
  • spasticity;
  • stroke

While botulinum toxin-A (BT-A) has been used to treat lower-limb focal spasticity successfully, its effect on characteristics of gait has not been well defined. The objective of this systematic review was to establish the treatment effect associated with the use of BT-A for equinovarus to improve gait velocity following stroke, using a meta-analytic technique. Relevant studies were identified through a literature search encompassing the years 1985 to November 2009. Studies were included if (i) the sample was composed of adult subjects recovering from either first or subsequent stroke, presenting with spastic equinovarus deformity of the ankle preventing full active dorsiflexion, and (ii) subjects who received BT-A were compared with subjects who had received a placebo, or (iii) in the absence of a placebo-controlled condition, subject had received BT-A and was assessed before and after treatment. A standardized mean difference (SMD) ± standard error and 95% confidence interval (CI) for gait velocity between the treatment and control group was calculated for each study, using Hedges’s g, and the results pooled. Eight trials, five randomized controlled trials, and three single group intervention studies were included. Data representing 228 subjects were available for pooled analysis. Treatment with BT-A was associated with a small improvement in gait velocity (Hedge’s g = 0.193 ± 0.081; 95% CI: 0.033 to 0.353, P < 0.018) representing an increase of 0.044 meters/s. The use of BT-A for lower-limb post-stroke equinovarus because of spasticity was associated with a small, but statistically significant increase in gait velocity.